Heyfield Mobile Support Crew

Crew Member Memories

"In the mid 1960's, Ted Gill, then Chief, Division of Forest Protection with the FCV, introduced the concept of Mobile Support Crews (MSC)".

"Each MSC had fifteen to eighteen students and was self-contained, with vehicles, radios, camping and firefighting equipment, including chainsaws, rakehoes and axes. Depending on where it was based the MSC may have included a camp cook."

"MSC's were variously based at or within the Benalla, Bruthen, Broadford, Heyfield and Stawell Forest Districts, or later in the subsequent Bairnsdale, Benalla, Horsham and Traralgon/Central Gippsland Regions of Conservation, Forest and Lands."

Source: Mobile Suppport Crews.

See also: John Wilson - John was the FCV Overseer who led the Crew.

See also: Crew Members

Kester Baines


I worked on the Connors crew for four consecutive summers, from Dec 1968 – Feb 1969, then Jan-Feb 1970, ‘71 and ‘72, being a leading hand on the ‘71 crew and senior leading hand in ’72.

Our first fire was in the Buxton-Taggerty area, which started on the same day as the bad Lara fires (8 Jan 1969). We worked in the Black Range, Royston Range and Blue Range and were there for five days. All up we worked on 13 fires over the four summers, mostly lightning strikes in the high country, but one near Mt Roundback on Wilsons Prom was also quite large. But our first was the worst – it’s the only time I’ve been in a fire that was crowning at times. Scary!

John Wilson was our boss and he was a very strong and fit man. He was strict but fair and we got on well with him. Our cook was Peter Thomas.

Our vehicles were two 11 seat Dodge buses and a traybody Toyota LandCruiser. Once, after rounding up a lightning strike in the Macalister headwaters, we had only the Toyota to get us out. We had the entire crew and all our gear on that ute, no OH&S to worry about then, and it ground its way up the Butcher Country Spur track and never missed a beat. Incredible.

Non-firefighting work was seedcutting (alpine ash and a little shining gum), scrub cutting along roads, and equipment maintenance. We also helped out with Athol Hodgson’s Phoschek drop-pattern experiments with the Twin Otter from Canada, on the Snowy Plains airstrip, in front of the 1970 FAO Fire Study Tour group. The crew enjoyed a joyride over the Wonnangatta Valley at the end at proceedings.